Going to Phoenix Comicon?!? There’s still time to check out the amazing April Grady-Reyna at booth number 1928!
JW: Hi April, tell us something about your artwork and where you got your start in the indie comic book industry.
AGR: I, unlike most, did not grow up reading and loving them. I lived in a very small community in central Illinois and the nearest comic store/ mall/ movie theater was 30-45 minutes away. I suck at comic trivia because of it. But I did love art and my parents always attempted to give us something to do ie: art lessons at the early age of 4 yrs old, piano lessons at the age of 8, and other recreation stuffs. I would randomly cut out pictures of comic books because I was drawn to the art, but lacked the literature to truly love it. fast forward to my first job while in high school age 17, a friend of mine handed me an application to heroic age studios – they do color separations (digital coloring) for several DC titles – and they introduced me to my first comic shop, my first comic book convention at Wizard World Chicago, and my first DEADLINES of what it means to be an independent contractor. I did that color separator job for nearly two years and then broke away to move from Illinois to Arizona in order to pursue a physics degree from ASU. I managed to change degrees to computer animation, but still my heart wasn’t in that degree either. I had a long, long, LONG talk with Tess Fowler at 2 am in the mesa Marriott lobby about what it was I was going to do with that computer animation degree and why I wasn’t a comic artist. She convinced me that I could do this indie artist thing. I lost sleep over it for about 2 weeks before I accepted my fate, an artist be it comic or otherwise. I practiced doodles, quick draws, and sketch cards and signed up for phoenix comic con that following cycle. I had never been so nervous, haha!
JW: What is your “best seller”? Comic books? Sketch cards?
AGR: My prints are my biggest money maker. Many love my blend of traditional media with Photoshop additions, some love my color choices, some just love the subject matter! Here as of late, I’ve been working with colorists, Staci Raye Winston, Milen Parvanova, and Nei Ruffino, attempting to free up time so that I can produce more work and build working relationships with other professionals within the industry. Talk about exciting! I have my own fan girl, squee-worthy moments, haha. I, also, have a lot of commissions that I love doing, mostly in Prismacolor markers. I do illustrate, pencil and ink, Mark of the Pterren and am the sole artist on the project currently. The writer, Melissa Stacy, informed me that she’s anxiously working toward relaunching the project this summer and my fingers are crossed to have steady issues printing come fall.
[pullquote]I have my own fan girl, squee-worthy moments, haha.[/pullquote]
JW: What was it like meeting THE Stan Lee?
AGR: Stan lee, what a guy! So sweet and generous with his time! We were at Albuquerque comic expo last year and we were doing set up when my table-mate, Jean Arrow, dropped EVERYTHING in her hands (including her breakfast) onto the floor and starting hyperventilating/crying! I freaked from her reaction without even seeing Stan Lee! her reaction was incredible! Finally, she told me what was happening and I couldn’t help myself, haha. I strolled up to him (an aisle and a half up) and politely introduced myself. Said it was a huge pleasure to meet him, then encouraged him to stop by my table to meet jean, if he had the time. He demanded I bring her to him, sweetly of course, haha. He said that he’d love to be introduced. I fetched her, quite literally. She was teetering on her 4 inch high heels and smearing eye make up, followed my lead towards Stan the Man. Just as we got with 5 feet of him, he got flooded with tons of adoring artisans. His managers were handling the crowd asking everyone to stop by his table for handshakes and what not when the managers see us and shouted ‘make a hole. These ladies are coming through!’ VIP treatment never felt so good, haha!
I’m looking forward to having a fun and successful show. Phoenix Comicon is my biggest and most exciting show all year round. It was my first show when i started out, it has grown so big, but still maintains its appeal to its fans. I’m looking forward to adding to that culture. I’m also attempting to get some last minute projects complete for the show (fingers crossed!). It’s a benefit to see old friends and I’m looking forward to meeting new ones, too.